How to Fix: Boot Windows 10 using Basic Display Adapter Driver

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Infopackets Reader Barry S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am having problems with my computer's display freezing randomly, though it usually happens within 3 minutes of booting into Windows 10. Oftentimes the system will lock up during boot. When this happens, my hard drive light on the PC keeps flickering away like it's still loading, which suggests to me that there is something wrong with my video card. I tested this theory by using remote desktop to connect to my main PC from my laptop. To my surprise the PC was still working as it should via remote desktop, though as I mentioned the display was completely frozen on the boot page. I would like to boot Windows 10 using the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter driver (similar to booting in Safe Mode), though I don't want Safe Mode because Safe Mode won't let me install programs. Do you know how I can boot Windows 10 using the Microsoft Basic Display driver? "

My response:

As far as I recall there is no way to boot Windows 10 normally using the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter driver. In previous editions of Windows this was possible using the F8 pre-boot Windows menu, but that option is no longer available because Windows Secure Boot takes precedence.

There is a way around this problem, which involves disabling your video card via Device Manager.

How to Fix: Boot Windows 10 using Basic Display Adapter Driver

To boot Windows 10 using the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter driver (not using Safe Mode), do the following:

  1. Click Start, then type in "This PC"; wait for "This PC" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Properties".
  2. The "System" window will be displayed. On the top left, click the "Device Manager" link.
  3. The "Device Manager" window will be displayed. Scroll down and click the "Display Adapters" menu item to expand the list. You should then see the name of your video card (such as: Geforce GTX 1080 Ti or Intel HD Graphics, etc).
  4. Right click the name of your video card, then select "Disable device". Once you do this, your screen may go blank. The blank screen should only last for a few seconds to a few minutes. When the screen comes back it should be in ultra-low resolution (either 640x480 or 800x600). At this point you will need to reboot the machine - assuming you can see the display.

    If the screen does not come back after a few minutes, you have 3 options:

    a) Tap the power button on the PC. In this case it will either shut down the PC or force it to go to sleep. If it goes to sleep, waking it up may restore your video (if it does not, try option C below). Once the machine is shut down, power it back up and boot Windows.

    b) Another option is to remote into the machine using remote desktop or similar (assuming it is enabled). This will allow you to navigate and safely reboot the machine.

    c) If all else fails, press and hold the power button for 5-10 seconds. This will forcefully shut down the machine. Once that is complete, power back up.
  5. Once the machine has rebooted, your video card driver should be disabled, which forces the Microsoft Basic Display Adapter to be used. Technically speaking, Device Manager won't list your video card as a "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter" - it will list it as your video card name, but "disabled".

From here you can continue using the machine without it locking up on you, until you can fix the problem or replace the card.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Help: From Dennis

If your computer is locking up constantly and you believe it's the video card that is causing the issue, I can help using my remote desktop service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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